Coby Atkins wins 14.1 League Championship

The 4th Annual 14.1 League National Championship was held Sept. 24th & 25th 2011 in Latham, NY. Hosted by the beautiful Diamond Eight Billiards in Latham, NY. We would like to thank the owners and staff at  Diamond Eight for being an absolute superb host to the event. Players that qualified to the Nationals through their local league rolled into Diamond Eight at 10am Saturday the 24th for a players meeting and we ran the draw around 11am to the double elimination format. We took a vote to run a 1 game "race to handicap" final and that was a yes vote. We had almost the full range of handicaps in the field, the handicap system allows any player of any skill level to participate in the great game of 14.1 on a level playing field, the system ranges players from "D" level needing 20 balls to win a match to "Pro" level needing 200 balls to win a match. This years event had from "C+" levels to "Pro" levels in the field from all over the country. 
The first round saw an exciting match take place when Coby Atkins from PA (A- handicap) drew Jeff Crawford (Pro handicap) out of Atlanta, GA. The spot from Jeff would be 90 balls to Coby and both going to 200. The match started with Coby putting together some nice racks and taking a commanding lead,  with Coby needing 5 balls and the score 195 to 97 in favor of Coby, Jeff Crawford mounted his comeback, putting together a 43 ball run and a couple of 20 somethings to pull within 20 balls of Coby, along the way Jeff made a great break shot to only get stuck frozen to the backside of a ball with balls all over the place and no shot at all, without even a reasonable safety Jeff was forced to take a foul which eventually led to an intentional 3 consecutive ball foul with 15 balls taken off and a rerack and break. After the break and a few safeties by both players Jeff finally got an opening and was off and running balls again, after another unfortunate break to Jeff, Coby was able to get back to the table to make a tough shot and pocket the remaining balls needed to get out, final score 200-178. A great match by both players. That match seemed to set the tone for the tournament as all players fought to the last ball every match throughout the event and many matches ended with only a few balls difference in score. 
Next up for Coby Atkins was Cal Smith from Michigan (C+ handicap) , Coby was giving a 60 ball spot in this match both going to 110. Coby knowingly needing to get off to a good start put together a 35 ball run to erase some of the spot. Cal played steady and pocketed balls frequently keeping Coby on his toes. But Coby's experience in 14.1 was a bit to much for Cal and Coby came out the winner 110-87. Next up for Coby  was Andy Walker (A- handicap) also out of Michigan. Andy was looking to top his 3rd place finish in last years Nationals and came out firing. Playing even and going to 110 as A minus handicaps, players traded racks and were knotted most of the way. Coming right to the wire in the last rack  Coby was able to prevail and pull out another win 110-103. Coby was now in the finals and would await the winner of the 1 loss side. 
On the march after his 1st round loss to Coby Atkins was Pro handicap Jeff Crawford. Jeff's first match on the 1 loss side saw him matched up with Ernie Mumford (C+ handicap) who qualified locally in Diamond Eight. Jeff was giving a 150 ball spot going to 200 to Ernie. Early on it looked pretty bleak for Jeff as Ernie was able to pocket some balls in the first 3 racks of the game and take a 167 to 25 lead. Jeff then beared down and came with a 57 ball run, then his next time at the table came with a 40 something. Jeff played great this match and took it 200-176. Next up was Mike Fitch (B handicap), another Diamond Eight Billiards local qualifier, Jeff was giving 120 ball spot in this match going to 200. Crawford managed to play steady and catch this spot as well, taking this match 200-187. Now for Jeff it was the tough Cal Smith from Michigan as a C+ handicap. Cal had just come off a tough battle with Ed Huckleberry (Pro handicap) out of PA, and it looked like there might be a matchup of the 2 Pro handicaps go to 200 with Ed and Jeff, but Cal Smith upended that by defesting Ed Huckleberry in a close one. In this match with Cal Smith Jeff Crawford was giving 150 ball spot again to 200, he got into the hole early with a few errors, running out of gas? Well we thought so, but when he was down 197 to 148 Jeff put together a run, now within a rack or so of Cal. Needing just 3 balls Cal had 2 balls on the table and faced with shooting in the breakball that was next to the rack or shooting a long cut shot and trying to get on the breakball, Cal decided to take the safe route and shoot in the breakball and leaving the other ball on the table. After a little back and forth strategy, Jeff got an opening, and that was it, ran out to win 200-198. Congrats to Cal Smith for a well played 4th place finish. Next up was the 1 loss side finally to see who gets a shot at Coby Atkins in the final. Waiting in the wings was Andy Walker who was sent there from the hot seat match by Coby. Andy (A- handicap) would get 90 balls going to 200 from Jeff Crawford. Andy always being a tough match for anyone, played well but couldn't overcome the great play from Jeff and finished in a respectable 3rd place for the second year in a row at the Nationals, congrats to Andy for a great tournament! 
After a short breather for the players the finals were underway. Starting with a 90 ball spot going to 200 Coby Atkins lost the lag and broke the balls. Jeff Crawford picked up early ground at 38-93, including a 27 ball run. A couple innings later Atkins worked the score to a 131-56 advantage. Crawford run 43 to get to 99-131. With some back and forth Atkins outscored Crawford to gain a 192-134 cushion, including a 27 and a 22 ball run. Crawford ended a 30 ball run with an unforced error and with the score 191-164 and Atkins pocketed the appropriate number of balls to win 200-164 and become our 2011 League National Champ! Congrats to Coby and also to Jeff Crawford for a very hard fought battle for 2nd place. D&D Family Billiards in Thorndale, PA once again produces our National Champ! Congrats to our friend Mickey "The House Man" at D&D! 
Thank you once again to all the players across the country who participated in the Straight pool League. Looking forward to another great year in 2012!